Ex-NBA star Latrell Sprewell launched an impressive campaign to unseat former slugger Jose Canseco for the title of America’s least-sympathetic housing crisis victim when his Milwaukee-area home was foreclosed on last week.
Sprewell spent 13 seasons in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Minnesota Timberwolves, making the all-star game four times. But he is best known for choking then coach P.J. Carlesimo in 1997.
The holder of the mortgage, RBS Citizens Bank, told Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Hansher that Sprewell owes $320,284. According to River Hills records, the house is assessed at $610,000 and has an estimated fair market value of $667,980; he bought the house in 1994 for $405,000.
The home is likely to be sold by the Milwaukee Sheriff's Department at auction unless he comes up with the cash to pay off the full amount of the debt or is able to refinance.
Sprewell's best case for title is not the choking incident—I mean, who hasn't tried to strangle a guy with a neat little beard like—Carlesimos—but instead his decision to stop playing basketball altogether rather than suffer the indignity of the three-year, $21 million contract extension the Minnesota Timberwolves offered him in the 2004-2005 NBA season. "I've got my family to feed," he reportedly said at the time.
"Latrell doesn't need the money that badly," his agent told Sports Illustrated in 2005. "To go from being offered $7 million to taking $1 million, that would be a slap in the face."
Today, Sprewell gets slapped in the face for much less. In addition to the home foreclosure, ESPN reported that Sprewell's yacht has been repossessed, and he owes more than $70,000 to the IRS in back taxes.
It's a strong case, Latrell. There are parking enforcement officers more sympathetic than you. But I'm afraid you'll have to do better than that to take down Canseco.
First of all, while Sprewell is certainly not too likable, he does have some clearly redeeming qualities. I mean, the guy named his yacht Milwaukee's Best.
Second, Sprewell, who had fallen behind on bills, appears to not have been able to afford payments on his property, which—his money-management skills aside—puts him in a totally different category than Canseco, who reportedly chose to walk away from his declining-in-value home.
This is what Canseco told the TV show Inside Edition, according to the Associated Press:
"You know my life, this financial thing, is a very complicated issue. Obviously, when you make all that money, people think, 'OK, let's assume it is $35 million.' People have to understand that $35 million, you're paying the government 41 percent. That leaves you with about $17 or $18 million, not even. Then you're taking care of your whole family."
Sorry, Sprewell, but you can't just beat the champ—you've got to knock out the champ. And you just weren't up to it today.